The days when it was socially acceptable for a male to try to seduce a female into a sexual liaison are long past. It ended with a campaign of “no means no,” such that a woman who responded with a clear “no” had fulfilled her part of the social interaction to communicate, clearly and decisively, that she did not consent to sexual contact.
Before those days, the social expectation was that a woman who wished not to be touched had to act to physically prevent the man from touching her. He could try, and she could push back. Even if she uttered words that made clear that she did not want to be touched, a physical manifestation was necessary.
After all, the male could try his damndest to convince her otherwise, even to the point of lying through his teeth. That was the nature of “seduction” back then. It was an accepted part of the game played between a man who wanted to have sex and a woman who may or may not. A woman might say no for a variety of reasons, from protecting her reputation to playing “hard to get,” when her “no” wasn’t really final. Or maybe it was. How else would one know but to test her fortitude?
Over the past few decades, much has changed in the social norms between males and females, all to increase the obfuscation of whether a sexual interaction was consensual or not. There were rape shield laws, protecting a woman from challenge based upon her prior sexual history. There was the anonymizing of the accuser, who became the “victim,” and has since become the “survivor” under current excesses of hyperbole, despite no loss of life having been threatened.
Two new thrusts, discussed here many times already, have emerged over the past couple of years. First, the “no means no” rubric has given way to “yes means yes.” Second, the definition of rape and sexual assault has become so diluted as to be rendered meaningless. Both rape and sexual assault can be determined by post hoc retrospection, by the sensibilities of the person, almost invariably the woman, without any requisite intent of a sexual touching by the man.
And the parity of consent has ceased to exist. Two drunk kids have morphed into one survivor and one rapist, based on genitalia. The amorphous line of incapacitation has disappeared into the foam atop a beer. One beer or ten, the notion that a person has lost the capacity to consent by dint of volitional acts has been replaced by the fallacy that alcohol, any amount of alcohol, is close enough to turn consensual sex into rape, to be determined by the way the survivor feels about it the next day. Or the next year, if the relationship soured and she no longer feels particularly kindly toward her former sex partner.
There has been a substantial effort made to compile a list of reasons why this is so, why it should be so, and why it’s not so problematic to require it to be so. From “it’s too exhausting” to stand up for one’s position, to a litany of rights untethered from responsibilities, the list serves to absolve a woman from the historic duties of a victim of a crime.
There is no duty to speak up at all, no less in a timely fashion, because women’s feelings impair their ability to act. There is no duty to be accurate when accusing a man, because the trauma impairs their ability to be accurate. But most importantly, there is no duty to inform the male that the woman does not want to be touched. Why, it’s argued, must a
victim survivor be compelled to give notice that she doesn’t wish to be victimized?
Comparisons are drawn to other crimes, such as robbery. Must a robbery victim inform her robber that she doesn’t want him to steal her money or belongings? The analogy fails under scrutiny, when applied to a male and female who have voluntarily chosen to be together, to associate with each other in a social setting. It fails because the nature of sexual relations differs from the nature of one person taking the property of another without consent, itself a more complex interaction than the shallow analogy often used by academics to make this point.
It fails because of willful blindness to the irrationality of the new sexual construct, one guided almost entirely by emotion and in flagrant defiance of reason.
But all of this is fine, provided it doesn’t cross over from social norms to legal obligations. If males and females are good with asking for consent before any touching, because any touching might be construed as sexual by the recipient of the touch, and thus a sexual assault with deleterious consequences, they should be entitled to engage in sexual courtship under whatever norms work for them.
And if they are not on the same social norm page, and the woman feels that a man has touched her inappropriately under whatever rules exist in her mind, she should be free to walk, no run, away, tell all her friends on social media, or how she was attacked and traumatized by the man who failed to obtain express consent to touch her cheek, and bask in the comfort of their sympathy.
As for imposing legal sanction, whether criminal or civil, the untenable gap of notice cannot be overcome. When “no means no” was the norm, at least there was clear notice, even if the notice might have obscured other purposes. The new regime eliminates notice, even though many woman deny it by wrapping it up in rhetoric that ultimately provides no test. If “yes” does not require a verbal assertion, at every move of a muscle, throughout the sexual interaction, plus proof of total, unfettered capacity to consent, plus the hope that there will be no post hoc accusation that a woman’s agency was overrode by unspoken feelings, such that positive consent was obtained despite secret doubts, then “yes means yes” fails.
But the new regime adds an additional layer of problem, the presumption that accusations be deemed proven until disproven, with the burden shift to the accused to disprove what the survivor claims occurred, even if only in the quiet recesses of her mind.
As a basis for legal recognition, none of this works. The lack of a requirement for open notice makes it legally untenable for the accused to know what can and cannot be done. It could be resolved by a legal requirement of “yes” with every move of a muscle, every thrust if you will. If that’s what’s required, then that needs to be made clear. Despite the fact that it’s unlikely that anyone, male or female, actually wants that to be the legal requirement, it at least has the virtue of satisfying the need for notice.
But if this is really where everyone wants to head, then there needs to be recognition of yet another fact that is denied with great persistence. All of this is “needed” because women are inadequate to the task of being equal to men. They are too weak.
Not too weak in terms of strength. None of this relates to forcible rape or sexual assault. Too weak mentally, intellectually, to assert their will. I reject this premise and believe that women are, and can be, equal. Every person, male or female, who claims equality while demanding inequality tacitly asserts female intellectual inferiority. Neither your attacks of reason nor your claims of equality can cover up this reality. Women are either equal to men, and thus capable of saying no and being responsible for the consequences of their actions, or they are not.
The same purposes served by law with regard to all other human endeavor exist in regard to the sexual interaction between two people. If you believe in equality of the sexes, then the only viable metric for sexual interaction is “no means no.” No outpouring of emotion or excuses can overcome the absolution of the duty imposed on all human beings to assert a position as rationally demanded by the circumstances, and then bear the consequences of one’s assertion. Unless, of course, you believe that women are the weakest sex, and thus in need of special privilege to compensate for their inadequacy.
This lie that’s been perpetrated, that we can pretend to be equal while changing the rules to compensate for gross inequality, cannot be ignored. The law requires reason, or it fails to sustain its legitimacy. It’s time to confront this truth before the damage done, the slide down the slope of sexual irrationality, cannot be stopped.
Call me what you will, but this is what equality looks like. Are you prepared to assert that the law needs to treat women like the weakest sex, incapable of meeting the ordinary legal requirements that apply otherwise? No denial, excuse, rationalization, will alter the fact that you, not me, think women are the weakest sex. I am the feminist. You are lying to yourself.